CNBC Ranks Idaho One of America’s Top States for Business 2018

Choosing where to do business is a big decision. From workforce to costs of doing business, infrastructure to economic health – there are many factors that come into play and many of these elements vary widely from state to state. With so many options and locations to consider – 50 to be exact – what are the elements that make a state a good place to do business?

Each year, CNBC releases a data-driven report detailing the economic climate of all 50 U.S. states. To reach this conclusion, CNBC begins by scoring each state on 64 metrics within 10 categories: workforce, infrastructure, cost of doing business, economy, quality of life, technology and innovation, education, business friendliness, access to capital, and cost of living. Next, CNBC analyzes each state’s economic development marketing materials, then assigns weight to the qualities a state communicates as a strong selling points for business. Learn more about the categories and methodology here.

This year, Idaho ranked 11 overall with a total score of 1496. Our state improved in all 10 categories since 2017, where Idaho landed 20 overall.

Idaho received the most points based on our strengths in cost of doing business, business friendliness and economy, followed closely by cost of living and quality of life.

Cost of Doing Business
Cost is undoubtedly top of mind for companies considering where to do business. Key factors that companies consider include a state’s tax climate, tax incentives, and utility and real estate costs.

Companies that choose to do business in Idaho benefit from low operating costs and the lowest per capita tax burden of any other state. Our top corporate tax rate and top individual income tax rate is 6.925 percent. In addition, qualifying companies reap the benefits of a variety of state-sponsored tax incentives, property tax exemptions, and workforce training grants.

Business Friendliness
In Idaho, we choose to stand besides businesses rather than in their way. We don’t see the need to put restrictions and requirements in place that will slow companies down. Instead, we want companies to work hard and focus on growth and success. We strive to be a partner in helping companies access the people and information necessary to get things done and get down to business.

Idaho’s Rapid Response Team is just one example of our efforts to be a quick and collaborative partner for companies. This team includes representatives from ten of Idaho’s state departments that proactively engage with companies to communicate regulatory requirements and help companies quickly secure permits, discuss infrastructure needs, and uncover opportunities for grants and incentives.

It’s obvious – a healthy, diverse economy is important, especially for business. Idaho boasts one of the strongest economies in the nation.

Our state budget is balanced, our tax structure is stable, and we have zero state debt. We don’t defer taxes in one business category while increasing taxes in another. Our unemployment rate is low and we’re leading the pack in job creation and growth.

Idaho also has a small and accessible government. Businesses are able to access decision makers and leaders in a variety of industries and sectors. We value relationships and connection in Idaho and recognize the value the ability for a new or expanding business to meet with the people and partners that, in the end, make our state stronger as a whole.

In celebrating our strengths, we must recognize there will always be room for improvement.  This recognition lends the opportunity for businesses, decision-makers and community members across Idaho to seek out ways to take steps forward toward creating a stronger, healthier Idaho for tomorrow.


Company Spotlight: Idaho Sewing for Sport, Inc.

Idaho Sewing for Sport, Inc. has served the ski industry for over 40 years. Growing up with many of the ski resorts we know and love, CEO Gunther Williams and team build chair lift seat and tower padding, covers for tubes used on tubing hills, and recently added military and law enforcement training gear to their product offering.

The team at Idaho Sewing for Sport, Inc. is passionate about working in the ski industry but even more passionate about providing good local jobs and wages that benefit their community and the economy. Employees are family and providing an enjoyable work environment is a top priority for Gunther and team.

With the belief that when everyone enjoys where they are working, the products produced are top notch and customers are happiest. This in turn provides the business an opportunity to reinvest in making the lives of employees and community even better. To this end, along with a robust focus on the organization’s culture, Gunther and team recently launched an innovative productivity experiment.

Gunther wanted to test if productivity could be increased by focusing on production needed and not hours working. The team shifted to a 5-hour workday and uses the timeframe as a benchmark to indicate if there are production issues in need of addressing.

So far, the experiment has been a success. Production is up, and employee satisfaction is up. By limiting unproductive time and focusing on production requirements, employees are producing more and getting more time outside the office to enjoy family, friends and activities they love.

It’s this innovative and inventive spirit that keeps Idaho Sewing for Sport, Inc. growing in the ever-competitive ski industry and leading the way in employee production and satisfaction. The next time you’re getting some turns in on your favorite ski hill, be on the lookout for Idaho Sewing for Sport, Inc. products!


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Tariff Exclusion Information

As of July 6, 2018, the U.S. is imposing additional 25 percent tariffs on 818 tariff items from China with a trade value of approximately $34 billion.

Simultaneously, the Office of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced a process to obtain product exclusions from the additional tariffs. The request period will end October 9, 2018. If you want to learn more and would like to file a request, please visit their website.

The Idaho Department of Commerce has a team dedicated to international business. If you have any questions or comments concerning the imposed tariffs or trade, please contact Jennifer Verdon via email or 208-287-3165.

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CDBG Spotlight: Nezperce and Grangeville


City of Nezperce – Finished construction of a new 9,475 square foot, five bay, regional emergency services facility. This project is a collaborative effort between the City of Nezperce Fire Department, Nezperce Rural Fire District, and Nezperce Ambulance Inc. The facility will house all equipment, supplies, office space for records, training space, kitchen, restrooms/showers, and sleeping quarters.



City of Grangeville – Completed new construction of a 4,300 square foot Kids Klub youth facility originally opened in 1996. Kids Klub, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, provides programs consisting primarily of K-6 afterschool care, pre-school instruction, and summer camps for children.

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Community Spotlight: Jerome

MAGIC VALLEY QUALITY MILK PROCUCERS (MVQMP) (1756 S. Buchanan St, Jerome) began construction of its $20 million expansion project this spring, and is expected to create 12-15 new jobs.  Designed by Power Engineers and Dairy Industry Consultants with Petersen Bros. as their contractors, the target completion date is Spring 2019.

MVQMP was founded more than 20 years ago as a milk marketing cooperative.  Now, they are expanding in to processing milk into finished retail and food service products, specifically condensed milk, condensed skim milk, and cream. The project will involve constructing a two-truck bay milk receiving building, a group of silos, and expansion of existing site utility services.

The City of Jerome was awarded a $250,000 Rural Community Development Block grant for road improvements adjacent to the plant.



Photo: KMVT

COMMERCIAL CREAMERY (218 S Birch St, Jerome) broke ground on the construction of its new dryer and warehouse facility on April 19, 2018.  This $6 million project is Phase I of a four-phase expansion plan. With Starr Corporation as their contractor the project is set for completion before Spring 2019.

Commercial Creamery makes cheese powders and creates the ingredients needed to produce a variety of foods, including unique snack seasonings, and rice and pasta dishes. Commercial Creamery Company serves clients in more than 30 counties around the world.

This project is funded in part by the City of Jerome’s Urban Renewal Agency (URA) for infrastructure.



MR. GAS TRAVEL CENTER (1223 W. Main St, Jerome County) opened for business on May 15, 2018, and is one of the largest truck stops in the U.S. This is a $6 million project and will employ 25 part- and full-time staff. The facility sits on 15 acres of land and will include 16 gas lanes and diesel pumps, plenty of passenger vehicle parking, and 165 semi-truck parking spaces. The Center will also have a convenience store and upscale restrooms and shower facilities.

The City of Jerome will benefit by the 2,000-foot extension of their water and sewer service all the way to the Center. It is referred to as a “gateway” project to open the west end of Jerome for improved commercial opportunities.

The project received a $50,000 Gem Grant from Idaho Commerce.

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Welcome! Jason Barnes

We have another new face at Commerce!

Jason Barnes, Business Attraction Specialist

Another transplant to Idaho, Mr. Barnes left Ventura County California to join the Gem State in July 2017. He has a B.A. in Political Science from California State University Channel Islands and a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from California Lutheran University. Mr. Barnes has served as Congresswoman Brownley’s Field Representative where he handled all community and public affairs in her district. Prior to join the Idaho Commerce team, Jason served as the Journal Clerk to the Idaho State Senate during their 2018 legislative session.


One of Mr. Barnes’s passions in life is giving his free time to the YMCA Summer Camp Program. Every summer for the past 10 years, Jason has been a volunteer camp director working with kids to build their character, and act as a positive role-model.

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Welcome! James, George, and Eric

We are excited to welcome several new faces to our Idaho Commerce family. Here is a brief introduction to three of the five newest members of our team.


James Varner, Administrative Assistant

Mr. Varner will work with the Shared Services team and assist with the Economic Advisory Council. He will primarily work with the Community Development, International Trade, and Business Attractions teams.


James Varner joined the Idaho Commerce team after moving to Idaho from Las Vegas, NV. While living in Las Vegas, James attended the College of Sothern Nevada and became a member of the College’s dance company where he had the opportunity to travel around the western United States and to Italy and Spain, winning the title of International Dance Champions. James is bringing a wealth of customer service abilities to the Commerce team, and is already becoming a great asset to the department. James moved to Idaho to be closer to his family, including his five brothers and two sisters.



George Lynch, Senior Economic Development Policy Advisor

Mr. Lynch will work with partners throughout the state advising the Director on policy initiatives for issues such as broadband access, affordable housing, and other key challenges the state faces in furthering economic development.


George Lynch, new Senior Advisor on Economic Development Initiatives, joins Idaho Commerce after three years at Bloomberg Law as a Senior Legal Editor where he specialized in state and local tax law and regulations as well as international and U.S. privacy and data protection laws. Prior to joining Bloomberg, Mr. Lynch worked for the U.S. Commerce Department where he was involved in enforcing fair trade laws on behalf of U.S. companies. Mr. Lynch has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine and his law degree from American University Washington College of Law. He and his fiancé, Rachel, live in Boise.



Eric Forsch, Business Retention and Expansion Manager

Mr. Forsch will oversee the department’s business retention and expansion team responsible for engaging Idaho businesses and providing information about available resources and programs. Mr. Forsch is rejoining Idaho Commerce where he previously served from 2011 to 2017 as a Senior Business Attraction Specialist playing an integral role in department initiatives like the SelectUSA trade show, the development of a statewide unmanned aircraft system (UAS) consortium and numerous business attraction projects.

Eric Forsch, Idaho Commerce’s new Business Retention and Expansion Manager, is rejoining the department after first joining Idaho Commerce in 2011 as a Business Attraction Specialist. Prior to rejoining Idaho Commerce, he served as the Market Principal for Manpower in Boise. Mr. Forsch has also served as an Adjunct Professor at the College of Western Idaho, and three years in the banking industry. Mr. Forsch received his Bachelor of Arts in History from Boise State University and an Master of Arts in History from University of Colorado. In his spare time, he enjoys brewing beer, woodworking, and spending time with his wife, Hailey, and their three dogs.

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Company Spotlight: Tedder Industries

A devotion to public safety has led to robust economic development in Post Falls, Idaho, creating hundreds of local jobs that are in service to an industry built on Constitutional rights.

Tedder Industries is a rapidly growing manufacturer that creates firearm accessories for its national and international brands Alien Gear Holsters, Bigfoot Gun Belts and Old Faithful Holsters.

Company growth since 2013 allowed founder and CEO Thomas Tedder to invest in the previously deserted outlet mall on the border of Post Falls near State Line off I-90 in 2016. The location had been defunct for nearly a decade, but it now houses active production lines and newly renovated spaces for business owners to lease.

The company’s dedication to innovation has led to investments in 3-D printing and injection-molding machinery within its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. This machinery provides the company the ability to design, prototype and launch advanced products for gun safety enthusiasts.

Tedder Industries seeks to challenge the status quo in its Idaho facilities, questioning traditional gun holster designs in its industry and replacing them with technologically advanced, modular holster systems.

“Hundreds of employees at Alien Gear Holsters work every day to make our country safer,” Tedder said. “In our North Idaho facilities, we’re constantly rethinking how we can better protect others with our equipment. For us, innovation is a requirement.”

There are about 200 employees spread across production and other teams. As the company develops its several anticipated product launches throughout 2018, it may need to scale production teams in suit, depending on market demand.

Its new machinery drastically lowers the amount of time required for mechanical engineers to put a product idea through prototyping and testing. An idea can go from a whiteboard to a 3-D printed model in a matter of hours.

This process, over the course of a couple years and with thousands of labor hours from skilled engineers, has led to the company’s flagship product line, the ShapeShift Modular Holster System.

Although Tedder started the company at his kitchen table in Arkansas nearly a decade ago, its operations have expanded internationally to four continents through strategic development and a bit of elbow grease from carefully cultivated teams, each with a clear understanding of what the company stands for.

Tedder Industries’ efforts have resulted in 8 years of advocacy for the safe exercise of Second Amendment rights, securing American communities one family at a time.


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Company Spotlight: Verified First

In a tightening labor market, it’s important for companies to quickly vet top candidates and onboard them seamlessly into their workforce. Background and drug screenings are a critical part of the hiring process, but there are inefficiencies that cost companies time, productivity, and sometimes top talent. Two serial entrepreneurs, Devon Dickinson and Tommy Cheng, felt there was a better way to conduct pre-employment screenings. In 2012, they founded Verified First to bring innovation to a stale industry.

From its humble Idaho beginnings, Verified First has experienced incredible growth. This year, Verified First was ranked #198 on the 2017 Inc. Magazine list of the 5000 fastest-growing American companies. This ranking also placed Verified First as Idaho’s fastest-growing company this year. The company’s success comes from a few key advantages that allows it to compete with titans in the background screening industry:

  • Hosted on the cloud, Verified First’s online portal makes background screenings faster, more intuitive, and more easily integrated with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). In large part because of the portal’s features and ease of use, Verified First won the Gold Stevie Award for Talent Acquisition and Retention Solution Provider of the Year in 2016 and 2017.
  • Integrating background screening services with an ATS improves hiring efficiencies, but usually takes several weeks, costs hundreds of dollars, and creates system downtime when hiring. That’s why Verified First found an innovative solution to speed up the process. Their patent-pending technology reduces the integration time from weeks to minutes and unlike their competitors, this integration is provided free of charge.
  • Verified First’s customer service and compliance team are all based in their Idaho headquarters. This allows the company to provide high quality, ongoing training to American workers who already understand the country’s judicial system. With an average 97% customer satisfaction rate, it’s clear this approach has paid off.

Verified First has flourished in Idaho because of its business friendly policies. More specifically, its growth was made possible through Idaho policymakers who passed the Cloud Services Clarification Act in 2013. This legislation, drafted by members of the Idaho Technology Council (ITC), clarified that cloud-based services are not taxable transactions. Supported by Idaho Commerce, the Boise Chamber of Commerce, and private industry, the legislation was signed into law by Governor Otter on April 3rd, 2013.

When Verified First was in its infancy, company leadership considered moving headquarters outside of Idaho. However, because of Idaho’s many advantages for businesses, including the Cloud Services Clarification Act, its headquarters remained in state. Since then, Verified First has created many Idaho jobs and provided a great workplace environment for its employees. The company has received numerous awards for company culture from Best Places to Work in Idaho, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Outside Magazine.

Because of Verified First’s success, it was spotlighted at last month’s quarterly ITC meeting with Governor Otter. As the company grows, more employees will be based out of its headquarters in Meridian, Idaho. In the last three years, Verified First has seen a revenue growth of 2,221% — and it has no intention of slowing down.

Nick Massoth, General Manager of Verified First, said, “Idaho is a great place to grow a company. We’ve been successful through hiring individuals with a strong work ethic and impressive levels of integrity — and we’ve found that workforce in Idaho.”

“We’ve also benefited from the collaboration between industry and state government. It’s empowering to have local policymakers who are responsive to our needs and want us to be successful. Idaho is no longer a hidden gem and we see no reason to stop growing here.”


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